Monday, November 7, 2011

CIA monitors social networks

November 7, 2011 13:24 | Kimberly Doziar, AP

In nameless industrial park in Virginia, in the nondescript brick building, the CIA monitor tweets (Twitter messages - Ed.) Reaching 5 million per day.

The center of intelligence information from open sources (Open Source Center), the team known as "gentle" name "vengeful librarians", also check Facebook, newspapers, television channels, local radio stations, chat sites - all abroad, to that everyone has access to which can add content openly.

From Arabic to Mandarin Chinese language of angry Twitter message in a serious blog - analysts gather information, often in the local language. They then comparing her to the local press or secretly intercepted telephone conversations. From there, they create a picture of the situation demanded the highest level in Washington, giving insight in real time, for example, the sentiment in the region after the campaign of "Seals" in which was killed Osama bin Laden or forecast in any Middle Eastern country brewing rebellion.

Yes, they anticipate the uprising in Egypt did not know exactly when to explode, said center director Doug jewelry.

The center has already been "predicted that social networks in countries like Egypt can change the rules of the game and prove to be a threat to the regime," he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. According to representatives of the CIA, this is the first time a journalist gets permission to visit all the management for this purpose.

The center of the CIA was created following a recommendation from the Commission on September 11, and his top priority is fighting terrorism and its spread. But the range of things that several hundred analysts (the exact number is kept secret) track is quite wide - from internet access in China to the mood on the streets in Pakistan.

Although most of them are based in Virginia, analysts are scattered and U.S. embassies around the world to "measure" pulse monitor the sites that track.

The most successful analysts are like the heroine in the novel "Girl with a tattoo of a dragon" - quirky, irreverent computer hackers who "know how to find things that others do not know they exist."

Those with an MA in library science and speaks several foreign languages, especially those with native language "are very good officers to monitor information sources," said jewelry.

Center began to focus on social networks, having watched Twitter shook the Iranian regime during the Green Revolution of 2009, when thousands protested against the election results and re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "At that time, Persia was the language became the third largest presence in social networks and blogs." Said jewelry.

The analysis of the center in one form or another almost every day within the daily intelligence briefing to President Barack Obama.

Once in May, bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, CIA followed Twitter to give the White House view real-time sentiment around the world.

As it is not always possible to determine precisely the location from which a message is sent, analysts analyze reactions languages. The result: the majority of Twitter messages in Urdu, the official language in Pakistan, as well as those of Chinese, were negative. China is a close ally Pakistan. Pakistani representatives cautioned against the action, describing it as violating the sovereignty of the country - a painful topic that continues to complicate US-Pakistani relations.

When a few weeks after the attack the president delivered his speech in which affected Middle Eastern problems, negative tweets over the next 24 hours came from Turkey, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, the Gulf, but also from Israel, with messages in Arabic and Turkish Obama was accused of supporting Israel and those of Hebrew speech was condemned as proarabska.

Over the next few days the mainstream media came to the same conclusions, which led to the secret area of ​​U.S. intelligence, based on analysis of intercepted information and intelligence gathered from local people.

The center also compared their results obtained from social media with those of sociological agencies to find out which of them provide more accurate data, said jewelry.

"We do whatever we can to not let the data that we receive come only from the urban elites," he said, acknowledging that only a small proportion of the population in areas which center upon, have access to computers and the Internet. But he points out that access to social networks via mobile phones is growing in places like Africa, which means that "the majority of the population than we expect, express their opinions freely. And this is not apparent from simple census people have access to the fixed Internet in a country. "

Websites such as Facebook and Twitter has become a key tool for monitoring emerging crises such as riots that raged through Bangkok in April and May last year, said deputy director of the center. AP agreed not to disclose his identity, because sometimes he still works undercover abroad.

In his capacity as director, the identity of the jewelry is made public by the government, although the location of the center is kept secret to avoid attacks - both physical and cyber.

Deputy Director was part of a small 20-member team of U.S. government employees who were able to run the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok during the riots, when protesters took to the streets in the neighborhood running to the embassy and trapped American Thai diplomats and their homes.

The army intervened and information from traditional media almost ceased because local reporters were caught or trapped or intimidated by government forces.

"But within an hour, all the information about what is happening flooded Twitter and Facebook," said Deputy Director. CIA detected between 12 and 15 users who send messages about the current status of the demonstrations and photos taken with mobile phones. CIA comparing data from Twitterer with those of scarce news media to determine which of them transmit reliable information. Also, Twitter users themselves are controlled with one another, shall, where someone gave inaccurate information.

"It helped us to narrow down the search to a dozen users who can count," he said.

Finally, while the crisis lasted, about two thirds of the reports of the embassy dispatched to all government institutions in Washington, is based on analysis of open sources of the CIA.